The most amazing thing liberals have done is create the myth of a compliant right-wing media with Republicans badgering baffled reporters into attacking Democrats. It’s so mad, it’s brilliant. It’s one kind of lie to say the Holocaust occurred when the Swedes killed the Jews. But it’s another kind of lie entirely to say the Holocaust occurred when the Jews killed the Nazis.
Today we have a positively exquisite example of such a leftist lie. Pseudo-victimhood, boldly claiming the moral high ground, projecting one side’s sins onto the other side…this one’s got it all.
The author of today’s opus is Rick Perlstein, who took to the Daily Beast this weekend to bemoan the fact that Rush Limbaugh brazenly lied about Barack Obama’s record on taxes, and that our poor tax-lowering president is too polite and civil to stand up for himself:
The caller quoted Obama’s words: “Because of this plan, 95 percent of the working households in America will receive a tax cut –- a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1.” (Which was true: People did.)
Rush responded, fluidly and without a gram of doubt. “Pay no attention to what Obama says. He means the opposite in most cases. What he says is irrelevant.”
So the guy to whom all Republicans must kowtow on pain of political death had just laid down a marker that everything Obama said was a lie.
PolitiFact says this promise did indeed manifest in the stimulus bill, as a $400-per-worker tax credit. Limbaugh 0, Perlstein 1? Not quite—remember, redistributive tax credits aren’t the same as tax cuts, and the point Rush was making wasn’t that this particular policy wouldn’t happen, but that Obama was disingenuous in using it to define himself as a tax cutter, because tax hikes due to the rest of Obama’s costly agenda would easily eclipse it. Which is true—as I wrote back in September:
Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on Americans making under $250,000 was undermined from the start by no less than four proposed tax increases that would hit those very Americans (letting the Bush tax cuts expire, lifting the payroll tax cap, raising capital gains taxes, and raising taxes on businesses). Since taking office, Obama has also raised smoking taxes, enacted a staggeringly expensive health care plan, supported (if not enacted) a staggeringly expensive cap and trade plan, and, according to ABC’s Jake Tapper, has proposed a grand total of nearly 1 trillion dollars in new taxes over the next decade.
According to Peter Roff of US News & World Report, Obama’s proposed 2010 budge was twice as costly as the 2009 one Tapper reported on—“ without taking into account the potential impact on revenues if the cap and trade energy tax ever passes.”
Misleading though it may be, so far this seems like fairly standard Democrat apologetics. Perlstein then takes it to the next level by lamenting that Obama’s dogged avoidance of the “old politics of division” has made him all but powerless in the face of conservative propagandizing, and its enablers in, of all places, the media:
(a) A mountebank teaches his millions of followers that everything the president says is a priori a lie;
b) The mainstream media that acts as if anything his millions of followers believe is a priori deserving of respect as heartland folk wisdom (note the cover article lionizing Limbaugh in this week’s Newsweek);
That cover article, written by recent Rush biographer Zev Chafets, only “lionizes” him in the sense that it talks about how influential he is (which is true) and doesn’t actively try to paint him as a monster—helpfully illustrating, by the way, what I said in my review of Chafets’s book: to leftists, “the only good Rush book reaffirms their own prejudices.” And given that Newsweek is Perlstein’s only example of MSM Rush-worship (because that case is kind of hard to make with outlets that slander the guy), it’s worth noting that the last major cover piece the magazine did on Limbaugh was David Frum’s infamous attack, and their archives are full of less “lionizing” stories.